Hawkeyes running back Kaleb Johnson had as good of a season as you could expect out of a freshman. Johnson rushed for a school-freshman record 779 yards along with six rushing touchdowns.

Johnson’s 2022 reached it’s apex in West Lafayette, with a 200-yard performance at Purdue. It was the 18th-best total in program history and second-highest single-game total by any rookie. The crazy part is he didn’t even fully understand the playbook.

Now, Johnson isn’t going to sneak up on anybody. He’s been named a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented to the nation’s top college running back.

The scariest part about Kaleb Johnson? He’s not even close to reaching his full potential, and more reps are only going to make him more dangerous, according to offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz.

“He just needs to play more football. He needs to play more football,” Ferentz said. “The more football he plays, the more that he can bring his skillset, which is pretty formidable. Right now it doesn’t show up in every aspect of his game.”

“Sometimes when he breaks a tackle he looks surprised. I don’t know why you’d be surprised when you’re as big and physical as he is. But he’s just young — that’s not his fault. We need to get him more reps, he needs to play more. I think that’ll happen for him. It’s just a matter of time.”

Former Hawkeye Shonn Greene won the award in 2008, while Albert Young was a semifinalist in 2005.

Speaking of watch lists, here’s a complete list of Hawkeyes who have been recognized so far:

  • Erick All – John Mackey Award (TE) 
  • Cooper DeJean – Bronko Nagurski Trophy (D-POY) // Paul Hornung Award (Versatility) 
  • Kaleb Johnson – Doak Walker Award (RB) 
  • Logan Jones – Rimington Trophy (C) 
  • Luke Lachey – John Mackey Award (TE) 
  • Cade McNamara – Maxwell Award (POY) 
  • Drew Stevens – Lou Groza Award (PK) 
  • Tory Taylor – Ray Guy Award (P) 

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